New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was in Lake Placid this morning to tout the benefits of the just-passed state budget for the North Country region.
The governor spoke to a standing room only crowd of elected, business and education officials at the Lake Placid Convention Center. The event began with a video summarizing the budget — which came together nine days late — with a segment highlighting the North Country.
Cuomo took the stage and reiterated his priority to focus on the middle class. “We’re cutting state taxes all across the board. Middle class taxes are the lowest rate they have been in 70 years. Not adjusting for inflation. No funny business with the numbers. This state government spends less per year than it has in history. My spending year-to-year, the state increase, is the lowest it has been in recorded history. Our state budget doesn’t go up more than 2 percent per year, year-to-year.”
The Democrat then outlined the budget’s investments for northern New York and the Adirondack region. “I’ve invested more in upstate New York and the North Country than any governor in the history of the state of New York period. Now the plan this year is to focus on tourism. $20 million to invest in Whiteface and Gore, bring in private sector partners. Let’s have a world-class facility. And the state’s going to invest $32 million in Frontier Town. As part of the overall reinvestment we’re going to invest $4 million in updating all of the state parks just in the North Country. We’re going to increase spending for the I Love NY campaign and we’re going to double the advertising budget for the Adirondacks.”
The budget also includes $750 million to fund the Regional Economic Development Councils across the state. Norsk Titanium will receive $125 million and the Plattsburgh International Airport $38 million. There is $75 million in infrastructure funding for the North Country and Governor Cuomo says he’s pleased there are subsidies to expand broadband service. “By the end of 2018 100 percent of the state of New York will have high speed broadband.”
For all his recent promotion of the Excelsior Scholarship program to provide free tuition to SUNY and CUNY students, the governor made only a brief mention of the program, which has received some criticism since the budget deal went forward.
Plattsburgh Town Supervisor Michael Cashman is a former SUNY Plattsburgh student and employee. He says the plan returns SUNY to its roots. “Many years ago you can talk to folks that got an education through the SUNY system and there really wasn’t tuition. The one provision that I’m most pleased with is the requirement that folks will need to stay in the state for a period of time. I don’t think we should be educating folks to have them move to different areas. We need to retain that knowledge. I still want to look at some of the finer details of it. But largely I think it’s going to have a positive impact.”
FY 2018 Executive Budget:
NYS Assembly 2017-18 State Budget: